Herb may Help Treat Deadly Brain Cancer

Glioblastoma cells respond to indirubin

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Indirubin is the active ingredient in a Chinese herbal remedy known as Dang Gui Long Hui Wan. Studies find the herb may help treat glioblastoma, a deadly form of brain cancer.

Researchers have found that indirubin interferes with the growth of glioblastoma cells. The herb blocks the spread of the cancerous cells to other parts of the brain and also inhibits the formation of new blood vessels that feed the tumors.

"Chinese herb ingredient indirubin may help treat brain cancer."

The study was conducted at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

Researchers transplanted human glioblastoma cells into one brain hemisphere of mice. They worked with a number of glioblastoma cell lines and two animal models. Here's what they found:

  • Animals treated with indirubin lived significantly longer than those who weren't  treated with indirubin
  • Tumor cells in the treated mice did not move to the other hemisphere of the brain
  • Another experiment showed the herb reduced migration (movement) by 40 percent
  • New blood vessel growth that's needed to feed the tumor was reduced to three-fold

The research was directed by Dr. E. Antonio Chiocca, professor and chair of neurological surgery and co-director of the Dardinger Center for Neuro-oncology and Neurosciences and Dr. Sean Lawler, senior scientist and group leader of the Translational Neurooncology Group at the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine.

Indirubin is derived from the Indigo plant. The Chinese herbal remedy it's used in - Dang Gui Long Hui Wan - is used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia.

The research is published online in the journal Cancer Research.

About 18,500 Americans are diagnosed with glioblastomas annually. The most common and deadly form of this brain cancer is glioblastoma multiforme. People with this disease live an average of 15 months after diagnosis.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 18, 2011
Last Updated:
July 20, 2011